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What happens if the Broncos suck into the duck?

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How much faith does John Elway have in Drew Lock as the Denver Broncos quarterback of the future?

NCAA Football: Oregon at Stanford
Can Elway pass on Herbert if he’s staring him in the face?
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For only the fourth time in franchise history, the Broncos fall to 0-4. Only one team has started 0-4 and gone on to make the playoffs. If you’ve watched the last four games and still believe this year’s team will be the second, you’re either on the payroll or an eternal optimist.

Realistically, the Broncos playoff hopes are in the dumpster, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to root for. There have been some really promising individual performances, after all. It does mean it’s probably time to accept that Denver’s playing the long game and working to build a core for the next playoff team.

This means it’s a great time to start poring over the 2020 draft and evaluating what Elway needs to do to get the Broncos back into the divisional race next year. So here we are. For the first time, this will be a 7-round mock draft. Obviously guys are going to move around a bunch between now and next spring, so bear with me.

Three big things before I get off and running:

  1. If you didn’t read the preceding paragraph and run to the comments to tell me how I’m giving up on this year’s team, or hate the Broncos, or it’s too soon... go back and read what I just wrote. If not, I’m going to disregard everything you say.
  2. Denver’s needs are all projections, and I went with The Draft Network’s predictive board, so if you want to argue “X will be here,” or “Y is going to breakout,” I’m not going to put up much of a fight. We’ll have a better idea in a couple months, so maybe you’re right.
  3. For this week’s projection, I followed Tankathon’s pick order. That means for the first time since we started doing mocks, Denver is picking 4th.

1st Round, Pick 4 - Justin Herbert, Quarterback

Considered: OT Tristan Wirfs, WR Jerry Jeudy, S Grant Delpit

The first three picks in the draft were Andrew Thomas, Chase Young, and Tua Tagovailoa. To be completely fair, I do not expect that to be the case next April. Still, it isn’t out of the question, so this does remain a possibility, if only a slight one.

It won’t surprise me if this pick turns a few readers off. After all, half of reader comments the last two days have been arguing about how Joe Flacco isn’t a problem. This completely misses the point. At 0-4 and seemingly staring a long way up Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, it’s fair to wonder if Joe Flacco will still be in the league the next time Denver’s a true Super Bowl contender.

The other argument will be for Drew Lock, and that’s one worth having. Taking Herbert seemingly dooms Lock to backup duties or a trade to another team. To pick a quarterback in the top five means Elway and the coaching staff don’t see their current heir apparent as a real long-term answer.

If you believe he is, feel free to pencil in any one of my other considerations for this pick. I grabbed Herbert in part to start the conversation. It’s time we do just that, Broncos Country.

2nd Round- Alex Leatherwood, Left Tackle

Considered: OT Prince Tega Wanogho, CB Trevon Diggs, S Xavier McKinney, DL Javon Kinlaw

The Bolles believers will tell you how he’s had zero holds the last two weeks. They’ll conveniently ignore plays like this:

It wouldn’t surprise me if Leatherwood winds up in the first round come April. He’s one of the better run blockers in the country and his mobility in space would be a really nice fit in Scangarello’s offense. He’s played inside and outside, but slid out to the left tackle spot for the Tide after Jonah Williams went to the Bengals last spring.

He’ll need to improve his technique, but that’s why Mike Munchak’s employed.

3A - Devonta Smith, Receiver

3B - Markus Bailey, Linebacker

Considered: OL Liam Eichenberg, OL Zach Shackelford, LB Paddy Fisher, DL Raequan Williams, CB Darnay Holmes, OL Walker Little, WR Donovan Peoples-Jones

It may be a pipe dream to hope Smith is available this deep down the board. Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller sounds convinced he’ll be a first rounder if he comes out this year. However, all I can do is pick the guys in front of me, and after his 11-catch, 274 yard, five touchdown game against Ole Miss, the 6’1 175 lb Smith looks like a good replacement for the departing Emmanuel Sanders.

Bailey is the kind of pick you either love or hate. Prior to tearing his ACL, the 6’1 230 lb Boilermaker was showing the kind of hybrid skill set backers need to really thrive in today’s pace and space NFL. He’s undersized and the medical checks would be important, but in a shallow linebacker class, this seems like a good time for the flier.

4th Round - Marvin Wilson, Defensive Line

Considered: iOL Lloyd Cushenberry, DL Neville Gallimore, DL Nick Coe, DB Essang Bassey,

Another guy I didn’t expect to have a shot at. Wilson is a 6’5 323 pound dancing bear who came to Florida State as a five star recruit and is finally playing up to it. If Fangio wants to find a prospect who could eventually look a lot like Akiem Hicks, he could do a heck of a lot worse than Wilson.

5th Round - Trajan Bandy, Slot/Corner

Considered: ED Michael Divinity, OL Hakeem Adenjji, S Richie Grant

Chris Harris Jr. is already talking about leaving next year, and his name is starting to get thrown around in trade scenarios. Bryce Callahan hasn’t played one regular season snap since signing as a free agent. Kareem Jackson missed the Jaguars game.

Minus those three, the Broncos will have Isaac Yiadom, De’Vante Bausby, and Duke Dawson logging significant snaps. Depending on what happens with Jackson and Callahan, this position could become a critical need (which may be why The Draft Network writers continue to mock Kristan Fulton to Denver week after week after week).

Bandy is the kind of undersized fighter Fangio seemed to love this past off-season. He tackles bigger than his listed size and offers intriguing ball skills. Most likely, he’d eventually grow into a slot for the Broncos.

6th Round - David Dowell, Safety

Barring some serious development over the rest of the season, it currently looks like the Broncos have Justin Simmons and a lot of question marks on the back end. Kareem Jackson could wind up being the other starter if he ever gets a chance to slide back from the slot, but he’ll also be 32 about two weeks before the 2020 draft.

Dowell is regarded as one of the coaches on the field for Michigan State’s defense, who use a scheme that could help him adjust to the Broncos. He’s also been a member of the Spartan’s leadership council multiple times, so he’d bring the kind of character coaches love.

7th Round - Samuel Cosmi, Offensive Line

Considered: WR Justin Jefferson

Cosmi is a long, lean, athletic machine who will need to get stronger at the next level. This pick was more so Munchak could start to really build up the offensive line depth than anything else.

Poll

What grade would you give this draft?

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    A - I love it!
    (96 votes)
  • 30%
    B - I like it.
    (230 votes)
  • 35%
    C - I feel nothing.
    (269 votes)
  • 8%
    D - Not a fan.
    (64 votes)
  • 13%
    F - You’re worse than Elway, Joe.
    (101 votes)
760 votes total Vote Now

Your Broncos Links

Bradley Chubb injury: Broncos’ edge rusher tears ACL; out for year - Mile High Report

The Denver Broncos season just went from bad to worse with the loss of Bradley Chubb for the season to an ACL tear.

Explaining The Restructure Of Joe Flacco’s Contract – Thin Air

-The Broncos had to use $18.5 million in cap dollars for Flacco’s 2019 services.

-Thanks to carryover, it does not matter whether the Broncos incur all of that in 2019, or some of it in 2019 and the rest of it in later cap years.

-The restructure does not guarantee, either de jure or de facto, Flacco a spot on the Broncos’ roster in 2020.

-The Broncos are in fine cap shape for 2020, even if they do carry $13.6 million for a Flacco that is no longer on the team.

11 things we learned after the Denver Broncos 24-26 loss to the Jaguars - Mile High Report

The Denver Broncos fall to 0-4 for the first time since 1999 and just the fourth time in franchise history.

John Elway must avoid turning Denver Broncos into the Oakland Raiders - Mile High Report

The Oakland Raiders have hired and fired a head coach every other year in the last two decades. It’s not a road John Elway should drive the Denver Broncos down.

Monday musings: Aftermath of 0-4 start | Trading vets, forgetting the past & assigning blame - SI.com

Vic Fangio and company were given a poor roster with aging vets and growing youths, switching schemes across the board on offense, the offensive line, and defense, while trying to start a new quarterback. It was always going to take time for the players to get comfortable in their new roles and the schemes to take shape. The hope was that the Broncos would be able to stay afloat long enough and win games as they ‘figured it out’ and developed chemistry along the way. This has not been the case.

Where do the Denver Broncos go from here? - Mile High Report

They keep grinding. That’s what they do. This Denver Broncos teams isn’t as bad as the two previous seasons, but they aren’t over the hump just yet.

It might be time for Denver Broncos to conduct a fire sale - Mile High Report

At 0-4, the Denver Broncos should come to terms with their situation and start building for the future. And that means getting some value now from a few key veterans.

Fangio: Broncos got ‘whipped’ by Fournette, Jaguars in fourth consecutive loss - Mile High Report

It’s an accurate description of the second-half unraveling of the Broncos’ defense that was on the field 40 of 60 minutes Sunday.

FMIA Week 4: Re-Organizing the NFL Power Rankings After an Odd Sunday – ProFootballTalk

I’m still on board with the Vic Fangio hire. It was a smart, long-haul move to bring in a no-nonsense, respected adult in the room by John Elway. But the most stunning aspect of his early tenure is that in the first three games, the first 29 drives, his ace pass-rushers, Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, have zero sacks and three quarterback hits. By Thursday, Miller, normally affable, was so fed up with the local media’s questions (what did you expect?) about the disappearing pass-rush that he read a statement and refused to take questions. What I’ve noticed, particularly Week 1 at Oakland, is passers are focused on getting the ball out fast because they fear the impact of Miller and Chubb off the edge. And because the Broncos have most often been playing from behind, foes (especially Chicago in Week 2) have been living on the run. The pass rush was better Sunday in the 26-24 loss to the Jags. But the Broncos still are feeble, 0-8 since December and nothing they can count on.

Forget the Hype—the Browns Are Beginning to Believe in Themselves | SI.com

The Broncos are now 8-24 in their last 32 games. That’s .250 over the equivalent of two full seasons. Not good.

NFL Draft Links

Studs & Duds: Risers And Fallers Of October Big Board Update | The Draft Network

Today’s edition of Studs & Duds is dedicated to recognizing those who are rising and falling the most on tomorrow’s Big Board update -- which will feature my current top 150 prospects.

Solak’s 2020 Mock Draft 1.0 | The Draft Network

Vic Fangio needs corners who can play -- dominate -- in a variety of coverages in order for his defense to regain its teeth -- a large part of the early struggles for the pass-rush is married to the corner play, in my opinion. With Chris Harris entering a contract year and likely to move on, and the depth in De’Vante Bausby, Isaac Yiadom, and Duke Dawson showing minimal promise, I like Fulton for Denver’s needs. The most physically gifted corner in the class, Fulton was a Round 1 guy last year, and could very well be a Top-10 guy this year.

Denver Broncos 2020 NFL Draft: Complete seven-round mock draft

Chris Harris is in the final year of his contract with the Broncos, and while they would love to have him back, it seems likely that he moves on next offseason. While they do have some interesting talent at the cornerback position, losing a player like Harris obviously leaves a massive hole at the position. I do not think that the Broncos need to force a cornerback selection early, but Okudah not only fills a major position of need, he is also one of the best players on the board.

2020 NFL Mock Draft: Giants find a wide receiver for Daniel Jones, Vikings take a quarterback - CBSSports.com

The Broncos take... Javon Kinlaw 3rd overall? Over Chase Young? Over Justin Herbert?

NFL Links

Bucs’ Barrett Making Early Case For Defensive Player Of The Year | Pewter Report

Bucs’ outside linebacker Shaq Barrett’s production through four weeks has put his name in the conversation for Defensive Player of the Year

Redskins: Grading Dwayne Haskins’ NFL debut

Redskins QB Dwayne Haskins did not play particularly well against the Giants but he showed promise despite impossible circumstances.

Haskins isn’t ready; will Washington start him anyway? | SI.com

Jay Gruden gave in and finally put his first-round rookie on the field, revealing to the world what Washington already knew: Haskins is not ready. Now the question, for an embattled coach overseeing a team short on talent, is whether or not to keep rolling with the rookie.

Mike Zimmer on Kirk Cousins: “There’s times you’ve just got to pull the trigger” – ProFootballTalk

On Sunday, Vikings receiver Adam Thielen came very close to publicly calling out quarterback Kirk Cousins. On Monday, coach Mike Zimmer echoed Thielen’s point, in a very simple, matter-of-fact way.

What will the Vikings do with Kirk Cousins? – ProFootballTalk

Sunday’s game confirmed for everyone what many suspected: For Kirk Cousins, those “You Like That?!?” moments are too few and too far between. For the Vikings, who have Cousins under contract for another 28 games, the question is whether they like that enough to keep paying him.

Report: Vontaze Burfict facing season-long suspension – ProFootballTalk

Raiders linebacker Vontaze Burfict is looking at another suspension for illegal on-field hits and it will reportedly be a lengthy one. Chris Mortenson of ESPN reports that Burfict is facing a season-long ban in response to Sunday’s conduct.

Micah Hyde intercepted Brady, told Belichick “he was staring him down” – ProFootballTalk

Bills defensive back Micah Hyde intercepted Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in the end zone on Sunday, and afterward Bill Belichick wanted to know about it. Channel 25 in Boston got postgame video of Belichick running after Hyde following the game, asking what happened.

Mitchell Trubisky will go to London, but won’t play – ProFootballTalk

All things considered, the news could have been a lot worse for the Bears. According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, quarterback Mitchell Trubisky should be back “sooner rather than later” after his left shoulder injury Sunday.